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Sugar shack

Brian Kleeberg opens new sugarhouse in Greenfield

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Brian Kleeberg with his great dane Cooper in his sugar shack getting ready for the Maple season

    Recorder/Peter MacDonald
    Brian Kleeberg with his great dane Cooper in his sugar shack getting ready for the Maple season

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Sign for Kleebergs sugar shack in Greenfield<br/>

    Recorder/Peter MacDonald
    Sign for Kleebergs sugar shack in Greenfield

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Brian Kleeberg with his great dane Cooper in his sugar shack getting ready for the Maple season
  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Sign for Kleebergs sugar shack in Greenfield<br/>

GREENFIELD — Brian Kleeberg loves maple syrup.

He also loves the process of making it, so he has opened Kleeberg’s Sugar House at 343 Adams Road.

“I remember being around my father’s cider mill when I was growing up,” said Kleeberg. “I loved the outdoors and everything about it. I feel the same way about this.”

Kleeberg, who has worked full time for Berkshire Gas Co. since 2005, said he will typically work another 20 to 30 hours a week in his sugarhouse this time of year.

He said when he begins boiling sap in a couple of weeks, he’ll be working another full-time job doing that until the end of April. He said he’ll be boiling every weekday afternoon beginning at about 3:30, when he gets out of work, as well as every weekend.

“If people see steam, they should come and check us out,” he said.

Customers will most likely be greeted by his sweet, friendly, gentle, very large, white Great Dane with black markings, 3-year-old Cooper, as they exit their vehicles.

“He’s my mascot,” he said.

“He loves people, so don’t be afraid.”

Kleeberg built his new 16-by-24-foot sugarhouse on Adams Road last year.

He said he doesn’t have set business hours, but instead takes orders or makes appointments, or sets up pickup times by phone.

“I started making syrup in my backyard with friends when I was 14 — I made about five gallons a year then,” said the 27-year-old Greenfield native. “For the past seven or eight years, I made 75 to 100 gallons a year in an old shack near this one.”

Kleeberg said he expects to make between 500 and 800 gallons this year.

He said he worked for Matthew Gray in Bernardston for a while.

“He taught me a lot about sugaring,” he said.

Kleeberg also bought new equipment this past year. He has an oil-fired evaporator and also does reverse osmosis to strip the water from the sap.

He said he taps about 2,500 trees, all through a pipeline. The system does not use buckets, but uses a vacuum to pull the sap from trees.

The trees he taps are located in Greenfield, Bernardston and Deerfield, on about a total of 50 acres.

Kleeberg’s Sugar House is a one-man operation at the moment, but his good friend Cody Pease has helped him tremendously, he said.

“He’s my right-hand man,” said Kleeberg, who doesn’t have any employees at this point.

Kleeberg graduated from Franklin County Technical School in 2004 with a degree in welding, and then attended Greenfield Community College until Berkshire Gas hired him.

He said he was able to follow his dream and open his own business, because having a full-time job at the same time he pursued his dream allowed him to save for the venture over the past few years.

Kleeberg said he got some help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which gave him advice on starting a business and offered him a farmers’ loan.

He said he made sure he knew exactly what he was getting into before taking the plunge.

“My five year plan from this point is to get bigger each year and keep going,” said Kleeberg, who hopes to own a large sugar house and hire employees someday. “You have to have a plan before you open, and you have to have a plan to keep it going.”

“It’s a lot more work than it appears, running a sugarhouse,” he said.

He is currently selling his syrup to The Farm Table restaurant at Kringle Candle in Bernardston.

Kleeberg takes cash and checks, but does not currently accept credit cards.

He sells maple syrup by the pint ($11), quart ($18), half-gallon ($29), and gallon ($52), and also sells it in bulk (call for prices).

Kleeberg will hold an open house at the sugarhouse at 343 Adams Road on March 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. He said people should drive up the driveway and park near the sugarhouse. There is a sign at the driveway entrance.

Kleeberg does not serve breakfast, but he said people will be able to purchase syrup at the open house, and will be able to watch him boil sap.

You can reach Kleeberg to order maple syrup or set up an appointment at 413-834-4333, or you can call Pease at 413-768-8818. Customers may also stop by the sugarhouse when they see steam, said Kleeberg.

Kleeberg Sugar House is on Facebook.

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